The Rookie creator on midseason finale cliffhangers: 'Everything will have fallout'
Warning: This story contains spoilers from tonight’s midseason finale of The Rookie, “Time of Death.” Read at your own risk if you have not yet seen the episode.
The midseason finale of The Rookie ended with a bang. Literally.
After killing a suspect while in pursuit, John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) faced a barrage of trauma, including his own mental duress over the incident and questioning from Internal Affairs, the LAPD Union Rep, a lawyer, and more. Things got even more dangerous for Nolan when the brother of the man he killed broke into his home and started to beat him with a baseball bat.
Lucy (Melissa O’Neill) happened to be showering when the assault began, after falling back into bed with John in the heat of the moment after a very traumatic few days. She snuck into the living room, just as the intruder was drawing his gun on Nolan, and we all heard a shot ring out, not knowing where it came from before we saw television’s most ominous words: “To Be Continued.”
Meanwhile, Jackson (Titus Makin) tried to get some face-time with his father Commander West, who was busy leading the Internal Affairs investigation into Nolan’s shooting. Talia (Afton Williamson) gets the “tap” to take the detective’s exam, which scores her some valuable experience with detectives, who are, unfortunately, working Isabel’s (Mircea Monroe) case. Talia tries to help Isabel through wearing a wire on a major drug bust, but Tim (Eric Winter) insists on being on the rescue team should the bust go south. The s— does hit the fan when Isabel pushes too hard to get to her dealer’s source, and when the team, including Tim and Angela (Alyssa Diaz) burst in, they find the hotel room empty except for some blood and Isabel’s discarded wire.
EW called up The Rookie showrunner Alexi Hawley to help us get out of the proverbial escape room of our emotions by filling in some of the dots on that “to be continued” card and what might lay in store for all of our heroes when the show returns in 2019.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You ended on a doozy of a cliffhanger. How worried should we be about John and Lucy’s fate?
Alexi Hawley: Worried enough that you come back in January and see what happens (laughs). That’s the glib answer. No, we set up a really high stakes situation both with him and Lucy and on the Tim storyline as well. There’s a lot of danger. It’s a show where we’ve found anything can happen. So people should definitely be nervous something might happen.
If both Lucy and John make it out alive, is there a chance the high stakes might push him to reveal his feelings again after drawing away when she didn’t hear him in the shower?
There definitely are repercussions that will come out of her being at his place. Basically, everything that we set up in tonight’s episode will have fallout. It could have life or death fallout, but also emotional and character fallout.
Internal Affairs seems to have wrapped things up, but is there still more to come from the department’s investigation? And will Lucy’s lie about Nolan going through a break-up coming back to bite her?
There’s definitely fallout from lies that have been told that we carry forward out of this episode.
Isabel seemed marked for death since we first met her. Things aren’t looking good. If it is bad news, is there a chance it could break Tim?
Tim is a really smart guy and a smart cop. She just is his blind spot…Yes, there is a chance it could break him. Ultimately, as I describe him to directors when they come in, he’s a guy who only lets out what he can’t keep in. This will definitely be bursting that dam and getting him out of control and getting him on a vengeance mission that will jeopardize his path in the police department.
Commander West won’t let Jackson have dinner with him and Jackson’s mom. What’s that about? That’s an odd thing for a dad to say to a son.
There is obviously a bit of mystery there on purpose. There is some family drama we’ll be getting to down the road a little bit, so we’ll definitely tell the audience what that’s about. His father is his sort of hero and for him going down this path, that it’s not all good news at home, is really interesting.
Talia put herself on the line with Isabel because of her personal connection. Might that come back to bite her when it comes to her dreams of making detective?
This is probably not the best step for her, not only through actions but also just through her emotional connection to Isabel and to the stakes of what happens at the end of the episode. Her easy path to, in her head, to conquering the world is definitely challenged by what she’ll have gone through.
How much more might we see Angela’s jealousy over the “tap”? Or if not jealousy, at least frustration that this is working out for her friend when she got in her own way?
It’s not necessarily jealousy of Talia, but more unhappiness at how she ended up screwing herself on that. I don’t want it to become a situation where it’s these two women who are competing and feel like if the other wins they lose. I set up in the pilot the idea that Talia sees detective as a stepping stone to get higher up the food chain, but Lopez — all she wants to be is a detective. That’s a more interesting character idea, that she’s not jealous of her, but she doesn’t think she respects the job they’re both competing for. We’ll definitely see that play out a little bit more.
Captain Anderson (Mercedes Mason) — this week we learned she’d been involved in a police shooting in the past and that she has a soft spot for Nolan. How much more is there to learn about her past? And I know you’ve been building John and Lucy’s relationship, but is there anything going on with the Captain and Nolan beyond professional respect and admiration?
What’s interesting to me about Nolan as a character is that he lives in between these two worlds. He is a rookie, but he also is 20 years older than they are. There’s a disconnect…But the people who are more his age, his grown-up equals, are his superior officers, and there’s a connection there based on life experience. Yet, there’s a boundary between them because of the job. There is a little bit of a spark between them. She definitely respects what he’s done and the change he’s made. Obviously, he appreciates her for that. But it’s interesting to put that in the context of the hierarchy of their relationship. That said, we are going to dig deeper into Captain Andersen in the new year. Episode 10 she’ll end up going to ride patrol as a way to stay close to the troops on the ground. We’ll go out on the street with her. That’s a really fun episode. She goes out with Lucy and we get to see her in action, and we get to learn a little bit more about her, and she’s not trapped in the station.
This episode deals with a hot-button issue, particularly from the point of view of the police. Why did you all decide you wanted to tackle this very big thing and how did you go about planning those signposts of taking the audience through how this would go?
We always see cops on TV shoot people and then a minute later they’re back out on the street as if nothing happened. What I’ve tried to do with the show is give you a little bit of insight into the reality of being a cop…The flip side of that is the darker side of that. It was really important that we had an opportunity to dig into what happens when an officer pulls the trigger and someone’s killed. We have a writer on staff who was a San Jose police officer for 18 years. He spent some of that time in Internal Affairs. He knew the minutiae of the process, and we all in the writer’s room found it really fascinating. What was jarring about it is that every police department isn’t the same. Every police department handles this differently. Some go through this process, some do not. In some departments, when an officer shoots somebody and kills them in the line of duty, there’s very little oversight or investigation. Trying to treat this show as aspirational, the way I would hope the police department and police officers would act, I thought it was really valuable to dig into the reality of what would happen here. It is treated as a homicide and you are a suspect. It’s just a question of whether it was a justified homicide or not. You don’t ever really see that point of view on this and to really get into the union rep and the lawyer and the IA investigation and the rules of what to do and what not to do, and all do it through the emotion of Nathan’s character and his own feelings of Could I have done something differently? And Was there a way out that didn’t involve pulling that trigger? It’s great drama and also really human.
Can you tease the back half of the season?
A lot of drama. We have a lot of great episodes coming up, again going to the place of how do we do stories differently — we’re going to have an episode that explores what happens when a VIP like the Vice President comes to town and what that means for patrol officers and the city. Because the city [of Los Angeles] is a character in our show. Whereas a lot of shows would just dig down on the import of the VIP, it’s all about the repercussions of that on the city and the drama that comes from trying to get from one place to another in L.A. when streets are shut down. We have a lot of character stuff coming up with our main characters. We’ll go down the road on Jackson and his family situation. We’re going to dig a little deeper into Lucy’s family coming up.